A Call for Creative Solutions

posted by in Cybersecurity, Privacy November 24, 2015
Nov 24

The November 13 attacks in Paris were tragic, and our hearts and thoughts are with the people of Paris. We stand ready to work with law enforcement to prevent future such horrific incidents. Such efforts will require creative solutions that benefit public safety as well as online security.

There has been a good deal of discussion in recent days suggesting that encryption is the single factor that enables terrorists. That is not the case.

Encryption – rather than something to be feared – is a valuable tool millions of people rely on every day to secure their online privacy, and is a fundamental building block of enabling this security. People should be safe, both as they go about their day-to-day lives and when they’re online, and encryption is vital to ensuring that safety. Government should not be pushing for solutions that would make the online environment less secure.

In the coming weeks and months and into the future, as the threats we face and the technology we develop continues to evolve, we all need to work together to create a safe and secure society in which we want to live.

Software and Data Helping Overhaul Conservation

posted by in Data, Industry November 18, 2015
Nov 18

Today, I gave the keynote address at the World Wildlife Fund’s 2015 Fuller Symposium. This year’s theme, “Wired in the Wild,” explores how software is helping address some of the planet’s greatest challenges. Our future successes in conservation, as in many realms, depend upon scientific inquiry, and so many of the scientific history-making breakthroughs we are seeing increasingly rely on software and data.

From complex modeling of ecosystems to 3D modeling that enables more accurate and complete measurement data, software enables us to learn more and do more. The innovative companies that make up BSA | The Software Alliance understand the importance of preserving our environment and natural resources. They are producing software and data that’s bolstering conservation efforts in truly amazing ways. Here are just a few examples I highlighted in my address:

  • Intel’s “rhino chip” is a credit card-sized Galileo board attached to critically endangered black and white rhinos in Africa. It’s in a “rhino-proof case” ankle collar that has a solar panel to recharge on its own. The animals then get an RFID chip placed in their horn. Anti-poaching teams are contacted if the two pieces are disconnected – to alert people looking to catch poachers before they kill animals.
  • The Mataki Project, with Microsoft Research, has developed an open source, low-cost tracking technology that comes with software tools to analyze the data gathered. Because it’s wireless-enabled, researchers can retrieve data without having to retrieve the device. It’s being used now on migratory seabirds, Bengal tigers, and pygmy sloths.
  • New York’s Lake George, also known as “The Queen of the Lakes,” is a famous body of water at the base of the Adirondack Mountains. The Jefferson Project is a collaboration among IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and The FUND for Lake George. The Project is deploying data to understand the ecology of large lakes, and the impact of human activity. By analyzing data captured from sensors, scientists, policy makers and environmental groups around the globe will be better able to predict how weather, contaminants, invasive species, and other threats may affect a lake’s natural environment.
  • Autodesk made history when its “ReCap” reality capture and 3D scanning software enabled a team of marine scientists to capture entire segments of coral reefs and turn them into highly detailed 3D models. Earlier efforts to accurately measure were limited in that they were two-dimensional, labor intensive, and time consuming. These 3D models now enable accurate measurements and monitoring of valuable reefs. Notably, the research team in Hawaii using this new technology was able to deliver history-making results using little more than ReCap and an underwater digital camera.
  • Ecologists, biologists, and environmental scientists at Microsoft Research and the United Nations Environment Programme have spent three years building the world’s first global ecosystem model. The model couples the key biological processes of all the millions of trillions of organisms on our planet to capture the structure and function of whole ecosystems, looking not just at how they vary across the world, but how can we mitigate or reverse the damages human pressures.

Today’s symposium also marked the launch of wildlabs.net, a conservation technology network. This online community is a centralized space for field-based conservationists to connect directly with technology experts to share their challenges and source new ideas for solutions. It’s initiatives like this – putting bright minds together with data and software breakthroughs – that will continue to make all the difference.

Seize the Opportunity for a Sustainable Path

posted by in Data, Privacy October 22, 2015
Oct 22

In “The collapse of the US-EU Safe Harbor: Solving the new privacy Rubik’s Cube,” Microsoft’s Brad Smith provides insight on ways to ensure European consumers and enterprises can continue using data services in the manner they chose and from the best providers of such services. In today’s world, it is a well-known policy truism that technology will advance much more quickly than tech-related law and that regulations can hobble both innovation and the economy. While we need to address immediate issues to address the collapse of the Safe Harbor, our future and the policy decisions which shape it require enduring and sustainable solutions.

Today, we have the opportunity to improve citizens’ lives, businesses and governments by creating a long term framework to ensure that privacy is fully respected while permitting new software technology to thrive. These solutions must be global and crafted to better fit the digital world in which we live. A failure to embrace this opportunity is a failure for us all.

History teaches us that resistance to change is a perennial challenge. Yet governments are presented with the opportunity to overcome current roadblocks and challenges by using a far-reaching lens, one which will help craft a future with a truly sustainable path. Such a thing can be done, and we should embrace this historic moment.

What’s the Big Deal With Data?

Oct 21

Plenty, according to new report from BSA | The Software Alliance

We are generating more data today than ever before – and it’s improving everything from healthcare and auto safety to education and air travel. More than 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years, and we now are doubling the amount of data created every two years. Once constrained by storage capacity, there is now expected to be enough data to stack 128-gigabyte tablets from Earth to the moon 6.6 times by the end of the decade, according to a 2014 EMC Digital Universe study.

Now, our biggest challenge is figuring out what to do with all of this information and how to leverage it – and that’s where software comes into play.

Today, BSA | The Software Alliance released a report that explores this data revolution and its positive impact on many different industries around the globe. Our What’s the Big Deal With Data? report examines the massive potential of data and dispels some common data myths. Along with the Data Innovation Executive Survey we released last December, this report shows how the benefits of data innovation stretch across the global economy and are not limited to software companies.

With lower storage costs and more powerful processing capabilities, software is unlocking valuable insights contained within data to benefit society and improve lives. Here are just a few ways data is enabling progress and revolutionizing the way we live:

  • Increasing Farming Yields.
  • Building Smart Cities.
  • Designing Energy-Efficient Buildings.
  • Reducing Commute Times.
  • Fighting Disease.

We hope this report starts many conversations about the integral role of data in our lives. The more we know about data, the better we can leverage its countless possibilities. To read our full study, please visit www.bsa.org/data.

PTO Should Take a Victory Lap

posted by in Intellectual Property October 2, 2015
Oct 02

The United States Patent and Trade Office (PTO) just released their “Study and Report on the Implementation of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).” They deserve a round of applause for their hard work implementing this landmark piece of legislation.

Signed into law in 2011, the AIA was the first major change to the Patent System in 50 years. When it was enacted, we believed that it would modernize our laws to take into account the global nature of our patent system. We hoped it would provide clarity and better certainty for both patent owners and those looking to manufacture or provide new services. Because of the work by the PTO in implementing this legislation, both have occurred.

Under the exceptional leadership of Director Lee, the PTO is doing a commendable job of implementing the AIA. They beat virtually every deadline set by the legislation and they did so in an impressive manner. This included transitioning from a “first to invent” system to a “first inventor to file” system and setting up three brand new patent review programs to more efficiently challenge the validity of patents. The Report highlights the steps the PTO has taken to implement the law and provides recommendations to Congress on how to further improve or tweak the legislation to help the PTO fulfill its mission. Most notably, the PTO recommends that Congress:

  • should not extend the Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents (pgs 37-39) and
  • should only make minor, clarifying changes to the Inter Partes Review system (pgs 33-35).

BSA commends the PTO on this report; beyond that, BSA commends the PTO for all of their hard work taking a complicated piece of legislation and putting it into practice.

The Web Is Worldwide — Shouldn’t Privacy Protections Be Global as Well?

posted by in Data, Privacy September 16, 2015
Sep 16

Earlier today I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about a critical issue that affects anyone who has ever sent an email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), designed to prevent unauthorized government access to private electronic communications, is sorely in need of an update.

We are generating an enormous amount of data every day — just think: over 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the past two years — but the policy environment tied to data services has not kept pace with this technological progress. The protections for our 21st-century world of software and data services are still mired in outdated 20th-century law.


A Healthy Challenge to Congress: BSA’s Congressional 2015 Data Agenda

posted by in Data September 15, 2015
Sep 15

An ever growing abundance of data, ever improving data software driven services, and the increasingly relied upon data that comes from software represent an important frontier in our lives today, and in our digital economy as a whole. The abundance of data is leading to life-saving breakthroughs in health, farmers producing crops at lower prices, and families with busy schedules staying connected—all by leveraging data.

Throughout history, any time new technologies challenge and change how we think and behave, policymakers are challenged with ensuring these technologies fully deliver on their potential. This is very much the case today, as we find ways to best embrace the promise of a burst of data services. Just think: more than 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the past two years. We create an enormous amount of data every day – but the policy environment tied to data services is lagging. Because of this challenge, consumers, businesses and law enforcement today all lack sufficient clarity and predictability about the rules and laws that govern the gathering, storing, sharing, and positive uses of data.


How Software Will Transform Global Society: Lifting the Developing World

posted by in Data, Global Markets, Industry September 14, 2015
Sep 14

Enormous changes enabled by software will help millions of people in the developing world live healthier lives, bring new ideas to life, and participate in the global economy.

Last year, the World Economic Forum established the Global Agenda Council (GAC) on the Future of Software and Society. Our mission is to help society navigate the huge societal shifts coming from software technology, both positive and negative. As part of that effort, in March, we conducted a survey to gather views and provoke discussion on some of the transformations occurring in society as a result of software. We asked a wide range of entrepreneurs, experts, and government officials for their views on when the adoption rate of specific technologies will reach a point that results in major societal impacts–everything from implantable mobile phones to robotic pharmacists to cities with no traffic lights. One outcome that emerged was exciting in its ability to directly impact millions of lives today: the potential of software to empower the developing world.


Today’s Technology, Yesterday’s Laws: U.S. Aims to Undermine Email Privacy

posted by in Data, Industry, Privacy September 9, 2015
Sep 09

The average email user doesn’t think a whole lot about how it is they can access their communications on a range of devices from almost anywhere on earth. They point. They click. They read. To quote the late Steve Jobs, for users, “it just works.”

The simplicity of email is built on three crucial ingredients: software, data, and trust. Software powers the global network that enables the system, and the data comes from users who rely on the Internet to power their communications and so much more. Those users supply the third ingredient: they must trust that when they log on, they will be able to access that personal information. And they must trust the technology and the services to keep their information safe and secure from prying eyes.


The Voices of Girls Who Code

posted by in Industry August 21, 2015
Aug 21

BSA | The Software Alliance sponsored the first-ever Washington, DC Girls Who Code summer immersion program. Here, several of the students share journal entries about their experiences.

BSA Office photo with Victoria Espinel